Oral Culture Breeds Stupidity in Africa.

Many of us grew up in Oral Cultures. And for many of us, some of our leaders bred this ridiculous idea that Oral Culture was even brilliant. And not only that, some even argued that in certain cases, it was superior to writing culture.

Nonsense! Consider the following idiot, writing for the BBC, calling himself a journalist, who writes about who he considers to be his great-grandfather. Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani writes that one of her ancestors sold slaves, but argues that he should not be judged by today’s standards or values.

The British Anti-Black organisation that the BBC is, was quick to publish the story, with some gory details. How they came by such oral details, descended from three generation past, beats me.

But, this is the practice, if a Black person recalls any Oral Culture that claims that Africa performed brain surgery before Europeans arrived to it, you will be wrong. The Europeans themselves will take you to school and they will question the efficacy of the process by which oral narratives are passed down. Nothing will come of your oral literature on brain surgeries!

However, claim in an oral culture that “Africans sold Africans into chattel slavery” and the Europeans salivate. That is interesting! Every European news outlet wants that story. You see the difference? Isn’t it interesting how, for more than two hundred years, Europeans bragged about “killing the African and saving the man through slavery,” but now they speak of “Africans enslaving themselves?”

Recall such braggadocios, as late as the early parts of the twentieth century: “God ordained the southern white man to teach the lessons of Aryan supremacy,” declared Woodrow Wilson’s friend, Thomas Dixon, author of the book and play The Clansman, which became the film Birth of a Nation, produced by Hollywood’s notorious controllers, the Nazi German mafia.

Information then might come from the same process, but whether the Europeans accept it or not depends on the ideology. This is what many people from Africa’s Oral cultures fail to grasp even when they have become journalists. Even when they think they have an education!

Africans because they were robbed of writing – I mean because they were largely robbed of a writing culture by the various external incursions inside Africa – do not know the difference between information and its context (ideology).

In fact, I read so many students on social media bragging about this or that information on Africa, on slavery, on racism, etc., and what becomes clearer after reading them over time is that many of these students do not know the difference between ideology and propaganda, let alone the difference between regurgitating (oral) information and leaving out its proper context. When you say the West has a certain ideology, and Africa lacks one, these pupils think you only mean that the west has propaganda.

And there you have it. Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani writes like she knows some information about her great grandfather. And that’s that! What she lacks, like many students in Africa, is an ideology. The Context for her western-anointed ramblings. Here, the most dangerous part of the naked (oral) information, i.e. information without context, is that all it does is fuel European ideologies about Africa with African information.

It is the naked (oral) information plus the context that we refer to as the Narrative! Oral cultures fall short of giving the naked information its proper context. And so it regurgitates what it thinks are the facts. However, there are no facts without their proper contexts. For this reason, Oral culture is a dangerous, unintelligent culture. A student from an oral culture needs to put in the work to unlearn the stupidity of his oral culture and adopt the more ancient African form of the Narrative – A writing culture. I have always argued that we get rid of oral culture quickly and fast. Or it will finish us.

6 COMMENTS

  1. Emmanuel AmevorFirst, my simple question is, are we questioning the historicity or truth of what this writer has put forth or the ideological context (or the lack of it)?

  2. Hubert Agamasu both, I believe. The writer is being embraced without any serious critique. It also enhances the debate.

  3. In a nutshell ideology is self interest and propaganda is the perpetuation of self interest on others by appealing to “virtue”; as a matter of fact is has slowly and painfully dawned on me that 80% or more of our source of motivation and actions in life is born out of propaganda that tends to serve the interests of others more than ourselves. When we look back at our actions and even those of our ascendants and descendants they are heavily doused in the propaganda of their times.

    Some of our “lucky” immediate ancestors, wanted to go to school so that they could wear calico, the main relic of the British industrial age, and unwittingly fell into the trap of the wider imperial interest of dividing local communities between the educated elite and the “uneducated”; and tragically never was colonial “education” intended to empower the wearers of calico with the awareness to see the reality of colonial cultural subversion; instead to ensure the “educated” natives maintained their “damned down” nature they were bombarded with a “civilizing” religion… and it is such as these “lucky” but clueless ones that were propped up by the colonial enterprise to “found” the “post colonial” nations.

    Self awareness, in a nutshell, is the ability to see through the mist of propaganda and act in self interest (as opposed to being duped by propaganda to act in the interests of others in the name of acting for self). Furthermore, those with a wider self interest are able to discern and align the interests of others to their own and in this way establish a kind of social cohesion among their societies.

    But as they say, the important things in life are rarely taught but self learned and by extension self awareness requires a modicum of self learning which implies a desire to question and contemplate… but the colonialists made sure that after the missionaries were no more, they left behind a mushrooming of shrines (churches) to remind us that we can not possibly contemplate questioning Jesus; we can only believe in his “salvation”… but not in our ability to reason… and in this way the colonialists entrenched their self interest by propagating the colonies with a litany of “educated” serfs whose every ambition in life (to become engineers, accountants, surveyors etc) largely serve imperial economic interests.

    Hence whatever is done, in deed or in writing, in order to bring about cultural and economic liberation ought to be guided by self awareness without which we cannot truly act in self interest.

    • Perfect! I enjoyed reading your comment.

      The following, however, is not to add to what you have completely defined. Nothing I say can add to what you have already written. I believe that it is this lost art of writing and pushing our self-interests that has devastated much of our tired continent. The fact and the reality of the Oral Tradition totally destroyed the idea of self, which requires an analytical tool like a Writing Culture to comprehend and disseminate. To disseminate self-interest, or as DuBois put it, to disseminate “Our self-Assertive Manhood,” with high fidelity, from place to place, from generation to generation, requires more than an Oral regurgitation of orally memorized stuff. It requires writing! Preferably in a language of our unforced choosing.

      We need to re-discover the lost arts! We need it for our survival.

      • Having read and considered your critique of the critique that awareness can only be derived through reason and that reason can only be spurred on through our regaining the lost art of writing and as such that we reason out in a our writing the reasons for our writing; I am generally persuaded that the reasons for our present day writing are mostly not born-out of reflection but mainly occur to fulfill bureaucratic requirements like filling in forms and documents or for upkeep as career journalists do but for the most part the writings of office clerks, in their various capacities, is essentially in the same tradition as what you’ve termed us the “oral regurgitation tradition” whereby no much reflection and self-criticism takes place and as such it cannot be considered as writing in the sense of transmitting reasoned ideas for posterity and benefit of present and future humanity.

        So basically we are automatons pushing paper around and robbed of our ability to foment and express ideas and as such we have fallen short of our “self-Assertive manhood” and especially in our African society you find they cannot see through Western propaganda they can only admire, emulate and regurgitate it and this is what has come to be seen as “progressive thinking”.

        So in a nutshell, as you have alluded, if we wish to attain to the realm of reason we might not have a choice but to really write for in doing so we shall gain reflection and by and by re-assert our manhood… and our existence as human beings no lesser than any other race as we were in the earlier days of ancient Egypt.

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